Probably no one but the editor and scheduler for The Daily Sisterhood blog noticed that all my postings last month were “encores”, but I’m going to tell you why I couldn’t submit anything…and what I learned during my Great Depression.
April has always been a tough month for me, because I lost both my step-dad and my mom in the April’s of ’96 and ’97.
You would think that after so many years it would get easier, but after nursing my mom through 13 surgeries over a five year period, I became the caregiver for both of them every day for the next 10 years until their deaths. My mom, despite all the surgeries to save her circulation, lost both her legs to Vascular Disease and my dad had only ¼ lung capacity due to lung cancer.
Each year I think I’ll be OK, but this year was especially rough for me, and I wanted to understand why, because last year wasn’t too bad. This year, I couldn’t think of anything else, let alone write about anything else.
I have learned so much about myself since I started writing for The Daily Sisterhood, so I thought maybe there was something I needed to learn from this massive depression I was in.
I began by remembering our lives together.
When I married my children’s father, my mom and my step-dad had only been married a couple of years, but he stepped fully into our family. He became my dad. My relationship with my husband was very off and on…mostly off…so when I became pregnant, my dad built me a little house on the other half of his acre of land.
We somehow managed to have three children together before finally called it quits for good. I was now a single parent, but I had my parents there for support.
Eventually my dad converted my little house into a duplex, and my brother moved into the other half with his family. We had always been close, but now we were closer in distance too.
Over the next few years, our children played together and walked to and from school with each other. We played board games, we ate meals together, and we helped each other through the tough times. Grandma and Grandpa were there right along with us, even when their health started to decline.
When my parents became fully disabled in 1986, my brother and his family moved into my parents’ house and we moved them into my brother’s half of the duplex. My dad had put a doorway inside the duplex between our two homes when he built the second half, so we could all just go back and forth through the door without having to go outside. It was very easy for me to take care of the needs of both them and my children without getting things mixed up.
I spent the last month thinking about those days and how much it all meant to me. Yes, it was very hard. I worked nights so I could be there during the day. My sleep consisted of multiple naps throughout the day, but it was the only way it would work. With my parents in one half of the house, my kids in the other half, and my brother and sister-in-law right next door, they all knew there was always someone just a few steps away at night when I was at work.
Replaying our life together helped me to understand why I’m so sad without them. We literally saw each other every day, and despite everything it took to take care of everyone and make everything work, I was grateful I was able to do it…to give back for all that they had done for me and my family.
I just kept telling myself that “God never gives you more than you can handle”.
Then my memories reached the “end” days.
The last year of her life, my mom was literally frozen except for her right arm that she used to change the TV channel. She had gotten a huge bed sore on her back while she was in the hospital for congestive heart failure a year before she died, and because it was so painful, and despite all my efforts to help her understand the consequences of remaining in the same position, she stopped moving and all the muscles in her tiny 3’ body atrophied into that position.
She never said it out loud, but I can imagine that she may have thought she would be better off dead.
My dad could hardly take a step without stopping to catch a breath. He had always been a big-hearted man who worked hard to take care of his family…and then my mom’s family…but was now a man who could barely walk. I believe he willed himself to die.
It was when I thought about the lack of quality at the end of their lives that I realized the man and woman I miss were not the same people when they died. I realized that my grief was a selfish emotion tied to the memories of the good times.
I realized that I could use this month to celebrate their release from the pain of this life, which will help me to release the pain of their death. After all these years, I will finally be able to smile when April comes around next year.
I will think about how much they are enjoying their new lives.
WANT TO USE THIS ARTICLE IN YOUR E-ZINE OR WEB SITE?
Please do! Just be sure to include this complete blurb with it:
My name is Laura Mozer Davis, and I was born over half a century ago. My life’s journey has included raising three children as a single parent while caring for my parents who both became disabled during the last 10 years of their lives. Now that my children are grown and my parents have passed into the next part of their journey, I finally have time for me to grow as a person, not as just a care-giver. What I am learning, however, is that my destiny is to always be a care-giver. When I started writing for The Daily Sisterhood blog, I realized that I was to continue my care-giving through my writing. If my words help even just one person find either solace or joy, I know my life continues to have meaning.